Former Vice President Joe Biden may be leading the polls for Democratic nominee in the presidential race, but it’s the prospect of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., clinching the presidency that’s prompting the ultra-wealthy to move to protect their assets, according to news reports.
Warren has proposed lowering the cap on the gift tax exemption to $3.5 million and applying a 55% tax to assets above that amount, rising to 75%, the Washington Post writes. And despite the election being a year away, many clients are already talking to their advisors to prepare for Warren’s plan to become a reality, according to the paper.
“We’re definitely seeing an increase in people looking to take steps before the election,” John Voltaggio, a managing director at Northern Trust Wealth Management, tells the Post. “It comes up in every conversation, and it’s one of the first things we talk about.”
Rhonda Guinazzo, director of Florida-based wealth planning firm CDL Family Office Services, tells the paper some of her clients “are looking at wrapping up their gifting, to use up their lifetime exemption, before it’s taken away, because Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders propose dialing it back.”
Voltaggio is telling clients to take advantage of the 2017 tax cuts, namely the doubling of the amount married couples can give away without paying taxes to $22.8 million, according to the paper.
Wealthy families can funnel that money into a trust fund to lower the amount of assets that would be subject to Warren’s tax, or make a donation, he says, according to the Post.
Guinazzo, meanwhile, tells the paper many of her clients, whose assets are typically more than $50 million, are holding off on making any major moves in the hope that the subsequent administration reverses anything done under a Warren or Sanders presidency. Guinazzo expects a “flurry of activity,” most likely “at the last minute,” she tells the Post.